In the Chinatown of my home, Las Vegas, Nev., each block seems to host an endless supply of boba tea shops, from international chains to mom-and-pop businesses. It surprised me when I came to Georgetown and discovered that the neighborhood had alarmingly few boba tea shops in the immediate vicinity.
For the common good of humanity and for science, then, I decided to embark on a journey to try out some of Georgetown’s boba offerings for the first installment of my column, which will look at food and drink through the lens of an Asian American student.
Although I’ve only been at Georgetown for a year, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve had my fair share of mid-afternoon walks in search of that sweet, blissful and sugary milk tea, and I’m writing this installment in hopes of providing readers with the chance to learn something about boba tea shops and discover new places.
Moge Tee, which opened last spring and is located on 2428 Wisconsin Ave. NW, offers a wide variety of drinks ranging from traditional milk teas to exotic fruit drinks. The aesthetic of the shop is pleasing to the eye, with white walls and bright, alluring lights providing a sleek, modern look that makes ordering there simply feel cool.
The prices veer on the side of expensive — $7.95 for a Dragon Fruit Tea, sorry but no — but the tea quality makes up for the price with the freshness in all of the teas. For fruit tea drinks, Moge garnishes the drink with fresh fruit slices.
Despite being a boba tea shop, Moge Tee’s cheese foam add-on has to be their best offering. Cheese foam started as a trend exported to the United States, but has risen in popularity because of the saltiness that it brings to sweet tea and a creamy texture that tastes great with tapioca pearls. This shop definitely justifies the trek up Wisconsin, and it might be the only one worth an Uber or Lyft.
Before Moge hopped onto the scene, I went to Kung Fu Tea all the time. One of my clubs, the Asian American Student Association, regularly caters from KFT. This shop is a national chain and is located at 1529 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
In line with its branding, many of its drinks have “kung fu” somewhere in the name, like the Classic Kung Fu Milk Tea — even if at first glance, a cup of boba tea seems to have nothing to do with kung fu. I enjoy this shop’s close proximity to campus and its large variety of drinks. One drawback, however, is that the shop uses tea powder instead of tea leaves, which makes the tea taste slightly less fresh. However, KFT makes sure to cover all of us lactose intolerant people, so it even has an option for Lactaid milk. When it comes to quality, convenience and variety, KFT satisfies all three criteria handily, even if it doesn’t have the most exciting or distinct boba tea experience.
The lovely thing about boba tea shops is that discovering them becomes half the fun of the experience. Walking through the neighborhood, I noticed tourists carrying boba cups with a logo I’d never seen before on M Street and knew I had to discover the source of this new boba I had not yet tried. After some searching, I found out it was a gelato and boba tea shop called Sugar Lab. I recently visited this shop again and thought that it was, in a word, okay. Opened in 2018 by two adults paying honor to their mother’s cooking, Sugar Lab, located at 3279 M St. NW, offers a lot more than just boba tea drinks.
It didn’t lack potential, but overall I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed by its smaller drink menu and the middling quality of the tea. Although closer to campus than both Moge Tee and KFT, Sugar Lab will satisfy the need for a quick sugar fix but can’t promise much more than that. In exchange for the lower quality of tea and limited number of drink options, though, Sugar Lab at least offers the cheapest selection out of all three stores.
Although Georgetown’s selection of boba tea disappoints when compared to the myriad shops found in other metropolises across the world, the shops that do operate in the neighborhood provide enough delicious boba tea and comfortable spaces to drink within to merit a visit soon.
Tyler Chan is a junior in the College. Food for Thought appears in print and online every other Friday.